Mamata announces payment for 21 lakh MGNREGA workers in Bengal by Feb 21

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Kolkata, Feb 3 (PTI) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced on Saturday that her government would transfer funds directly to the bank accounts of 21 lakh MGNREGA workers in the state by February 21.

The Trinamool Congress supremo, who launched a 48-hour-dharna in front of the BR Ambedkar statue in the city here on Friday demanding release of "unpaid dues" from the Centre for various social welfare schemes, said she would soon come out with another announcement regarding the unreleased funds for the Awas Yojana.

"We do not want to beg from the BJP nor do we want their alms. By February 21, we will transfer money to the bank accounts of 21 lakh workers who did not get the money from the central government even after working for the 100-day work scheme (MGNREGA) in the last three years. This is my first step", Banerjee announced at the dharna site.

"The central government is thinking that they will starve Bengal to death. We will not allow them to succeed in that... Have faith in me... I will try to slowly clear those funds which are still stuck," she said.

"This fight is for the people who have been deprived. We will continue our fight and not let a single poor person be deprived in Bengal. Till I am alive, I will fight for you people", the CM said.

Banerjee said her party would go "all out" for the Lok Sabha polls and claimed that if all opposition parties come together, then the BJP government at the Centre would surely be toppled.

"I will play all out and win all out. If all states, all frontal organisations and all regional parties and national parties come forward, then I think the fall of the BJP is inevitable. If BJP thinks that they are going to stay here long, then they are wrong. They have tortured people for a long period," she said.

The Bengal CM reiterated that she would "never allow" the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the state.

Referring to the arrest of former Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the central probe agency moving court against her Delhi counterpart and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal for skipping summons, Banerjee alleged that the saffron party was using the agencies to threaten opposition parties.

"The BJP government has no strength to do anything on their own. They have only one strength which is running a government of the agency, by the agency, and for the agency.

"Hemant Soren is a tribal leader and they have arrested him. Now, they are after Arvind Kejriwal... They have sent me a letter telling me that we have not submitted any report from 2003... we were not even there at that time... ," she said.

Talking about the 'One Nation, One Election' concept, Banerjee said the country's Constitution was in danger during BJP rule as the party was planning to implement a Presidential form of government.

"The country's Constitution is in danger during BJP rule. The BJP leaders do not show respect for the Constitution. They are actually forcing on us the concept of 'One Nation, One Election' which means a presidential form of government," she added.

On Saturday, former India cricketer and politician Kirti Azad and social activist Yogendra Sharma visited Banerjee at the dharna manch.

While leaving the dharna manch after spending 48 hours, Banerjee said the demonstration will continue till February 13.

"I had decided to hold it for two days, I kept my word. Tomorrow morning again they will hand it to TMC Youth. On Monday TMCP will take over.

"Party MLAs will also come and I will also try to come and join. There will be only one slogan "Banglar Bonchona, Manchi na, Manbo na". I thank the administration and the media," she said while leaving the stage. PTI SCH RG MNB